Shar Knutson, the president of the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, writes in Act would restore labor-management balance, an op-ed piece in today's Pioneer Press:
In Sunday's Pioneer Press, Patrick McIlheran, a Milwaukee writer, railed against the Employee Free Choice Act — a bill restoring American workers' ability to form workplace unions without employer interference.
Despite Mr. McIlheran, the Employee Free Choice Act earned solid congressional support long before it was introduced in the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate last week. Forty senators and 223 U.S. representatives, including the Democrats in Minnesota's delegation, co-sponsored the bill.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Reps. Betty McCollum, Jim Oberstar, Collin Peterson, Keith Ellison and Tim Walz were all co-sponsors, and for good reason: Unions can help rebuild the middle class. For that to happen, workers who want unions need to be able to form them.
The Employee Free Choice Act levels the playing field between workers and employers. And it should come as no surprise that mega-employers that pay minimum wage and offer few benefits, like Wal-Mart, Target and McDonalds, are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a campaign to influence Congress and kill the bill.
Opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act have suggested that they, not workers or their unions, are champions of workers. Some have gone so far as to suggest that union organizers will abolish "sacred" secret ballot union elections.
Workers want to unionize (or not) freely, fairly and unobstructed by intimidation from co-workers, organizers or employers. . . .
Read the whole thing in the PiPress.
Our friends at the Land Stewardship Project have sent us the following press release about the USDA's beginning farmers program. Congressman Walz was instrumental in including language for the program in the Farm Bill:
Federal Beginning Farmer Program Launched this Month
USDA Seeking Applications for the Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The USDA announced this month that it is accepting applications for efforts that support new farmer training, education and assistance. Applications will be accepted through May 13 for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). BFRDP, passed in the 2008 Farm Bill with $75 million in dedicated funding, is a competitive grants program aimed at providing resources to community-based organizations and other institutions and groups which offer support to beginning farmers and ranchers.
“The program is a good example of how federal support can provide resources to on-the-ground organizations in communities across the country to stimulate action,” said Bill Gorman, a Land Stewardship Project Federal Farm Policy Committee member and Goodhue County dairy farmer. “This program is geared to those working to help new farmers succeed — new farmers that are needed to grow our food, care for the land and strengthen our rural economy and Main Streets.”
During the 2008 Farm Bill debate, the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) organized widespread grassroots and organizational support for the BFRDP initiative. LSP testified in Congressional hearings and worked closely with policymakers such as House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN), House Agriculture Committee members Tim Walz (D-MN) and Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD), as well as Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), to win for the first time ever a beginning farmer development policy with dedicated funding.
USDA announced the availability of funds and request for applications on March 13. The initiative will be administered by the Cooperative States Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES), an arm of USDA. This year over $17 million is available in grants to applicant organizations that work with beginning farmers and ranchers.
“Never before have there been these type of resources to support those who work face-to-face and often day-to-day with new farmers,” said Gorman. “This isn’t the only public policy or approach to help new farmers, but it is a piece of the puzzle and an important signal for those interested in starting farming.”
To see the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program‘s “Request For Applications,” as well as additional information on the program, [click here.]
Smart Politics reports Upper Midwest House Members Vote 18-5 in Favor of TARP Bailout Bonus Tax. The MinnPost's Cynthia Dizikes writes Despite party's national split, Minnesota's GOP House members all oppose AIG "bonus tax" a slightly different take on the vote.
We thought a oldie tune from Sinead O'Connor might be in order, and we dedicate it to all those souls who praise wardrobe failures along the lines of those described in a beloved Hans Christian Andersen tale: